The Westmorland Gazette’s Readers to the Rescue campaign aims to raise £40,000 for Kendal Mountain Rescue Team to buy a new state-of-the-art vehicle that will act as a ‘mobile base’. This would allow better communications on rescues and potentially save lives. This week SARA ROYLE talks to two team members about the difficulties of dealing with incidents that do not have a positive outcome.

FOR the voluntary Kendal Mountain Rescue Team members, one of the appeals of the organisation is using their skills to help others.

However, there are occasions when outcomes are not what the team had been hoping for, when difficult decisions have to be made and fatalities dealt with.

Jules Funnell, team member for six years, recalled the night in November 2015 when a man went into the River Kent in his car and a search commenced.

"With the height of the river it became dangerous for the team to continue searching the riverbank," she recalled. "The decision had to be made to stop searching and we were aware that he was found the next morning.

"You replay things. Could we have done things differently with our searching? But as a team we debrief so this information all helps to build up a picture and to help with future incidents."

Deputy team leader Kath Jackson said that when the team was faced with a fatality situation, they could still help bring some dignity to the casualty and answers to the family.

"The first fatality I can remember attending as part of the team the victim was younger than myself and I remember thinking that he didn’t look dead," she said. "I watched one of the doctors zip up the body bag as I was fighting the urge to say: 'are you sure?'

"It took me a while to process that but you do find ways to accept that there is not always a happy ending and to still care and feel but not be overwhelmed, to know you and the team did what they could to alleviate the suffering."

As well as the team members supporting one another there is a team of volunteers across the Lake District teams who have trained in trauma risk management and can be contacted by any team members struggling to process an event.

Those affected can then be referred to counsellors for professional guidance.

"The team is like family and knowing that there are other people who will get how you’re feeling if an incident hits you mentally is important, Kath said. "Banter and black humour sometimes come out on a Land Rover ride home from an incident and can seem a bit inappropriate but are a mechanism for expressing the emotional impact of what you’ve seen and done.

"Mountain rescue as a whole is also getting much better at acknowledging that sometimes that informal network is not enough and there is increasingly more information about the mental and emotional impact of attending traumatic incidents."

If you have been helped by Kendal Mountain Rescue Team and would like to share your story, please contact Sara Royle on 01539 790260 or email

You can also donate to the campaign online. Visit